Research Fellow of King’s College London
The Spartans 90 mins (uses Sparta to cover Ancient Greek History.)
The truth about democracy 90 Mins
Bettany Hughes visits Crete to recount the story one of the greatest archaeological discoveries ever made.
The tale of the Minotaur and the Labyrinth is perhaps the most compelling of all Greek myths. Just over 100 years ago, English archaeologist Arthur Evans went to the ‘Minotaur’s Island’ to explore the roots of this myth and discovered instead a sophisticated Bronze Age civilisation that had been lost to history for thousands of years.
He called them The Minoans, and the riches of their culture astonished the world, prompting Evans to proclaim them the first civilisation of the Western World.
But was this view unduly romantic? Recent archaeological discoveries have added fascinating layers of complexity to the picture originally painted by Evans.
The Minoan civilization was a Bronze Age civilization that arose on the island of Crete and flourished from approximately the 27th century BC to the 15th century BC. It was rediscovered at the beginning of the 20th century through the work of the British archaeologist Arthur Evans. Will Durant referred to it as “the first link in the European chain.” The early inhabitants of Crete settled as early as 128,000 BC, during the Middle Paleolithic age. However, it was not until 5000 BC that the first signs of advanced agriculture appeared.
Atlantis: The evidence 58 mins
Historian Bettany Hughes examines The Minoan eruption of Thera, which was a major catastrophic volcanic eruption estimated to have occurred in the mid-second millennium BC. The eruption was one of the largest volcanic events on Earth in recorded history. The eruption devastated the island of Thera (also called Santorini), including the Minoan settlement at Akrotiri, as well as communities and agricultural areas on nearby islands and on the coast of Crete.
The eruption seems to have inspired certain Greek myths and may have also caused turmoil in Egypt. Additionally, it has been speculated that the Minoan eruption and the destruction of the city at Akrotiri provided the basis for or otherwise inspired Plato’s story of Atlantis.